Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Commonwealth Round Table on Zimbabwe

July 14, 2009

THE Commonwealth Organisations’ Roundtable on Zimbabwe, held in Johannesburg July 7 – 9, 2009, brought together Zimbabwe civil society, local government, parliamentarians from the region and other partners, and those from the Southern African region, with representatives of Commonwealth Associations and Organisations in order to:

  • Review the needs of Zimbabwe during a period of transition
  • Identify priorities for practical help and support
  • Develop and strengthen programmes of action

Commonwealth Organisations welcomed the recent visit of the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe to the United Kingdom and his interaction with Commonwealth representatives on that occasion; they noted the commitment by the Prime Minister to the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and to realising the benchmarks set out by the Zimbabwe Government in this regard.

Discussions at the Roundtable centred on key areas including governance, democracy and the citizen; social protection and human resource development; humanitarian assistance and the rehabilitation of infrastructure; economic stabilisation, reconstruction and development.

Commonwealth organisations reaffirmed the commitment expressed in the Kampala Civil Society Statement “Realising People’s Potential” to engage with the people of Zimbabwe and commit resources to planning and development for the future.

Commonwealth organisations, regional and Zimbabwean partners indentified the areas where support was required, noting that the full implementation of the GPA is an urgent necessity including the restoration of human rights, the rule of law and the freedom of the media:

  1. The process of healing and reconciliation should address the legacy of conflict. Commonwealth organisations will draw on experience in the region and in the wider Commonwealth to provide support and encouragement including at the community level.
  2. Democratic institutions need to be strengthened at every level and confidence restored in the electoral framework. Commonwealth organisations are actively engaged through parliamentary, local government and civil society organisations and will endeavour to provide training, advice and exchange programmes.
  3. Civil Society Organisations are an important source of support for citizen engagement, cultural expression and the delivery of essential services; therefore cultural, faith based and trade union capacity needs to be strengthened through partnerships with Commonwealth and other organisations.
  4. Commonwealth Organisations will seek to strengthen the freedom and independence of the media, by urging repeal of repressive legislation specifically AIPPA and POSA. Furthermore, a call was made to improve ICT access at all levels.
  5. Support for human resource development throughout Zimbabwe is required. Commonwealth organisations will increase their commitment to secure resources and to help build capacity within the human resources sector. The skills and experience within the Diaspora needs to be developed.
  6. Schools, universities and training institutions need to be revitalised in order for them to function effectively.
  7. Ensuring social protection and practical support for the vulnerable and young people, labour rights and empowerment of women is another area where Commonwealth organisations are able to provide examples of good practices and offer support.
  8. Restoring the country’s essential infrastructure such as roads, communications, safe water and sanitation, low cost housing and other key services is vital. Local government throughout the Commonwealth will provide relevant technical expertise and other support including through city-to-city partnerships.
  9. Food shortages are widespread and the threat of a further cholera outbreak remains. Commonwealth organisations will urge member governments to ensure that the provision of humanitarian assistance is expanded and sustainable agricultural production is restored.

Zimbabwe’s economy has collapsed but steps have been taken to reverse its decline. Commonwealth business organisations and investment agencies will be encouraged to play an active role in the rebuilding of the economy. Support for micro finance and small enterprises will be explored through Commonwealth networks.

The Roundtable recognised the scale of the challenges facing the Inclusive Government and its need for regional, Commonwealth and international support to address these. A Special Programme for Zimbabwe will be developed by Commonwealth Organisations with Zimbabwean and regional partners, drawing on the strengths of the Commonwealth’s unique networks across more than 50 countries and responding to requests for advice, training and practical support. Such a programme will be an essential means to strengthen the links between the people of Zimbabwe, the people of the Commonwealth and the wider international community to support the process of reconstruction and development. The Special Programme will be communicated to CHOGM through the Commonwealth Peoples’ Forum, in Trinidad and Tobago in November 2009.

Johannesburg, July 9, 2009

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